September 30, 2007

Fall Classic: Colorado Rockies

The clock hasn't struck midnight yet for the Colorado Rockies

Tomorrow is October 1 and yes, the Colorado Rockies will still be playing. As Joshua Sharf says, "God, I love late-season baseball"--and for the non-fairweather fans among us, it has been an awful long time since 1995.

So what will this extra game, number 163, mean? It represents only the seventh time in major league history a one-game playoff was necessary to determine postseason placement. Should the Rockies fail to win and advance to the playoffs for only the second time in club history, would any of their late-season push have been for naught?

No. Not in a season marked by rookie short-stop Troy Tulowitzki's unassisted triple play (13th in MLB history) and potential rookie-of-the-year numbers. Matt Holliday could very well end up MVP, leading the NL in batting average, hits, and RBIs. The pitching staff included 17 game winner Jeff Francis (tying a club record), and the emergence of a somewhat eclectic yet effective assortment of starters and relievers that helped the Rockies to the league's longest winning streak of the year (11 games, also set a new club record).

In finishing 89-73 (with one more tomorrow), they also set the club record for wins in a season, as well as games over .500. After losing to Arizona on May 21, the Rockies stood 9 games under .500, but went a torrid 71-46 that, including a dismal 1-9 road trip in late June (their .607 winning percentage would have lead the majors this year--no team went above .600).

No matter what happens tomorrow, a team expected to finish around .500 that made such a dramatic, indeed, Cinderella finish to find itself in contention for a wild card spot is no small feat. That anyone anywhere is still talking Rockies baseball in October is awesome, and credit to the unheralded yet unwavering team taking the field tomorrow.

The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News both have great roundups and photos.

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